Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Long-neglected Gaza heritage wilts in war  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 14/08/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!

(MENAFN - AFP) The Israeli missile tore through the vaulted ceiling and pulverised age-old sandstone. One direct hit destroyed the Omari mosque in Jabaliya and dealt another blow to Gaza's beleaguered heritage.

The site is believed to have housed a mosque since the seventh century and parts of the Omari were said to date back to the 14th century.

A modern building was added several years ago, but the Omari had been one of Gaza's few remaining historic buildings. Now it stands in ruins.

The muezzin was killed after he had given the call to prayer, residents said.

The narrow sliver of territory tucked into the eastern Mediterranean between Egypt and Israel has been home to settled communities since at least 3,300 BC, historians say, governed by the Caananites, Pharoahs, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines before the arrival of Islam in the seventh century AD.

It was ruled by the Mamluk dynasty in the 13th century, and three centuries later joined the Ottoman Empire, which held sway until the British took the area in 1917.

But Gaza has relatively little to show for its history.

Centuries of conquest and conflict, and rapid population growth since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 have hit the enclave's cultural heritage badly. Squat apartment blocks built from breeze blocks line many of the city's streets.

"It's not a priority for anyone," said Yasmeen al-Khoudary, who helps curate a private museum set up by her engineer father Jawdat.

"When you think of Gaza you never think of history, or ancient Gaza or archaeology, you always think food, medicine, refugee camps, Hamas."

To compensate for the lack of state-funded museums, her father started collecting artefacts from the Canaanite era to World War I that he unearthed while working as an engineer.

He set up the private museum on the seafront in Gaza City in 2008 to showcase the ancient pottery, coins, bronze work and weapons.

He added a restaurant and hotel, incorporating historic items into the centre: the pillars on the verandah at the restaurant were originally part of the tracks of the railway that ran through Gaza.

Yasmeen said her family planned to expand the collection and renovate the museum, and that two French archaeologists visited in April to help.

One returned to continue her work in early July, but was forced to leave as soon as the war started.

- Indirect damage -

Stood in the rubble of the Omari mosque, Ahmed al-Barsh, from the tourism and antiquities ministry, says the fighting has caused both direct and indirect damage to Gaza's heritage since it broke out on July 8.

"Indirect damage since it was impossible for visitors, foreigners, students and scholars to enter," he said.

Even before the war, the Israeli blockade imposed in 2007 made his work nearly impossible, he said.

Israeli authorities restrict the entry to Gaza of some key construction materials, including cement and steel, which they say Hamas could use to build attack tunnels, and so renovations look difficult.

"Israel banned the entry of materials for renovation, and international foundations and organisations working in the field cut support," Barsh said.

Another site obliterated in the latest fighting was the 15th century Al-Mahkamah mosque in Shejaiyah, in Gaza City, one of the neighbourhoods worst hit by shelling.

All that remains of the original structure is the Mamluk-era sandstone minaret, its intricately patterned masonry still intact in a pile of rubble, electricity cables and twisted metal.

But it is the Darraj neighbourhood which is home to some of Gaza's oldest buildings, including the Grand Omari Mosque and the Church of Saint Porphyrius, both of them in good condition.

The Hamam al-Samara, Gaza's only remaining Turkish bath, has served the residents of Darraj for more than 1,000 years, and has more recently become a tourist attraction for the few who visit.

Mohamed al-Wazeer's family has run the baths for nearly 100 years, but they were forced to shut when the conflict began on July 8.

"The war happened to everyone. Everyone who had a business shut it," he shrugged as he smoked a cigarette under the domed ceiling of his empty bath house.

He plans to reopen as soon as a permanent truce is reached. Despite the financial damage caused by the war, he plans to use the hammam to offer Gazans a respite from the war.

He said he would encourage people to return and relax in the baths by cutting entry from 20 shekels to 10, "out of solidarity with the people, because of the situation we have just been through".



  MENA News Headlines
 Oct 13 2015 - France signs deals worth $10 bn with Saudi ArabiaAFP
(MENAFN - AFP) France on Tuesday announced a series of deals worth 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) with Saudi Arabia, reinforcing growing ties between the two countries. Prime Minister Manuel Valls ...

 Oct 13 2015 - 27 Palestinians killed since beginning of OctoberJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) The number of Palestinians who have been killed since the beginning of October due to confrontations with Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank, occupied Jerusalem ...

 Oct 13 2015 - Jordan- Social development minister, Saudi counterpart discuss cooperationJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) Minister of Social Development Reem Abu Hassan on Tuesday, discussed with Saudi Minister of Social Affairs Majid Al Qasabi, means to boost social cooperation between the ...

 Oct 13 2015 - Two Israelis killed, 16 others injured in occupied JerusalemJordan News Agency
(MENAFN - Jordan News Agency) An Israeli soldier was killed and 16 others were injured in a shooting an stabbing attack carried out by two Palestinians inside an Israeli bus in Jabel Mukaber ...

 Oct 13 2015 - UAE- Nedaa to feature latest technological innovations in LTE mobile broadband communications at GITEXEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) DUBAI 13th October 2015 (WAM) -- Nedaa the Dubai Government's professional communication corporation has announced its participation in the 35th edition of ...

 Oct 13 2015 - UAE- RAK Ruler receives Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the UnionEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) RAS AL-KHAIMAH 13th October 2015 (WAM) -- H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah today received Hamad Abdul ...

 Oct 13 2015 - Mohammed bin Rashid pays his respects on death of martyr Sultan Al MazrouieEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) KALBA 13th October 2015 (WAM) -- Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has offered ...

 Oct 13 2015 - UAE- Eye on Earth Summit calls for practical action to support 2030 sustainable development agendaEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) ABU DHABI 13th October 2015 (WAM) -- The second Eye on Earth Summit has concluded with a commitment from delegates to implement a number of mechanisms ...

 Oct 13 2015 - Yemeni Minister of Human Rights: UAE plays a major role in restoring stability in YemenEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) CAIRO 13th October 2015 (WAM) --Yemen's Minister of Human Rights Izz Al-Din Al-Asbahi has praised the leading role played by the United Arab Emirates in ...

 Oct 13 2015 - UAE- EGA sponsors Montessori Model United Nations conference to empower tomorrow's leadersEmirates News Agency (WAM)
(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) ABU DHABI 13th October 2015 (WAM) -- As part of its commitment to supporting education initiatives in the UAE Emirates Global Aluminium EGA sponsored 150 ...




Click to Apply


Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices


Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks

Saudi Arabia 

Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor


Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters

© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help